On July 4th weekend of 2017, we embarked on our first journey to the wonderful part of the world called Central America. It has always been Sam’s dream to climb a volcano so what better place to do that than the beautiful country of Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is home to roughly 24 volcanos and countless lakes! We were able to spend 5 incredible days touring 3 of their renowned volcanos and we were blown away by the beauty of the country and the hospitality of the people.
Day 1: MASAYA VOLCANO
On our first day, we toured the Masaya Volcano. This is one of the active volcanos, near Managua and we could actually see lava inside of it! Our tour company, Tierratours, picked us up from the airport and shuttled us to the base of Masaya National Park. Due to the stage of eruption Masaya is in, tourists are no longer allowed to walk up and tours of the park are limited to 60 people at a time, for 15 minutes. Seeing this volcano was probably one of the most exhilarating 15 minutes of our lives! We were literally able to get right up to the volcano and feel the heat coming out of it.
After our 15 minutes were up, we got driven back to the base of the park and to our hotel to change for dinner. Dinner that night was at a great restaurant called ‘Cocina de Dona Haydee’ in Managua. We enjoyed our dinner at this restaurant and the beer was cold and delicious.
Hotel Casa Real – De Hotel Seminole 3c, al norte 1/2c, al oeste., Managua 14101, Nicaragua
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Day 2: CERRO NEGRO VOLCANO
On our 2nd day in Nicaragua, we boarded the bus to head to Leon. It was pretty chaotic at the bus station but we located the bus for Leon and waited on the line. The buses wait at the bus station until they are full and then they leave. It was approximately a 1.5 hour ride from Managua.
We arrived to Leon in the morning and had most of the day to explore this colorful city! We had lunch at a family-owned cafe and walked around the city for a bit then went to the hotel and used the pool.
There was a power outage in the city which apparently is just normal and no one seemed bothered by it, everyone just went about their day. Being that all the power was out in the city, we figured we’d try & see if we could get a tour of the Cerro Negro Volcano. We were able to secure a tour that included volcano boarding, through a company called Volcano Day. It was great to be able to book things on the spot! Tourism hasn’t quite picked up in Nicaragua as much as some other countries so it’s pretty easy to book things once you arrive. We got picked up from our hotel and taken on a chicken bus to the volcano site.
Once we got to the volcano, we got our boarding suits and boards and started our trek up to the top of the volcano.
After we all got suited up, it was time to start the boarding! Boards down the volcano could go up to 70mph. Everyone had a great time!
Go Sam go!
After our adventures at the volcano, we all got a few drinks at a bar in the city and then parted ways for dinner.
Hotel La Perla – Iglesia La Merced 1 cuadra al norte, Leon Nicaragua
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Day 3 – 4: TELICA VOLCANO
After our exciting day at Cerro Negro, we woke up ready for our overnight hiking & camping trip! We booked this trip through Quetzaltrekkers, which is an incredible non-profit organization made up solely of volunteers, from all over the world. The money received from the trips they run go to benefit local children in Nicaragua, providing things like homes & schools for the country’s underprivileged.
Our hotel was right around the block from the Quetzaltrekkers office, so we walked there and met up with our awesome tour guides and the other person on our tour. Our 2 tour guides were Sam from Ireland and Rachel from Oregon.
From there we walked into town where we met our chicken bus to take us to the volcano. Chicken buses are widely found all throughout Central America, and are pretty much just school-bus type vehicles crammed with tons of locals. It was such a crazy but fun ride to the volcano site!
This tour was an overnight tour covering roughly 24km of ground with some steep uphill and downhill along the way – approximately 15km on the ascent and 9km on the descent. Because the tour is so steep and you are required to carry sleeping bags, sleeping mats, 4 liters of water, food and a backpack, there are horses available to assist with carrying the packs. When we got to the park we met our horse.
At that point we were ready to begin our ascent toward Telica!
After about an hour or 2 of hiking, we stopped in a remote village where a lovely local woman cooked lunch for us. She had also made a delicious drink from an orange-colored fruit! This drink was so amazing! When we tried to ask her what fruit it was, she couldn’t understand our English, so we never actually found out.
We spent about an hour with her. She had chickens roaming around her yard and hammocks for us to rest. She did have an outhouse but there was no running water or electricity.
After our time was up, we finished the remainder of our trek up to Telica.
We got to Telica around 4pm where we set up camp. Quetzaltrekkers provided us with sleeping mats, sleeping bags and 2 tents. Sam and I shacked up together in 1 of the 2-man tents, and our 2 guides and the other person on our tour shacked up in the other. Once everything was set up at the campsite, we went go watch the sunset at the summit of Telica.
Back at the campsite, Rachel had been cooking dinner while Sam (our tour guide) had brought us up the summit. When we returned, a delicious vegetable pasta with tomato sauce had been cooked for us over the fire. We all enjoyed the delicious meal then roasted some marshmallows afterward and then it was time for bed. We had to be up early the next morning to catch sunrise and start our descent back down the mountain.
We slept pretty decently. The sleeping mats and sleeping bags were comfortable and it wasn’t too hot or cold, however during the night, cows roamed around the area where the tents were. They weren’t too loud to the point of keeping us up but we definitely heard their footsteps hitting the ground.
Sunrise the next morning was beautiful! We got up at 4am and headed up to a higher point on the volcano to catch it.
After that we had breakfast and started our descent back down the mountain.
When we got back down the base of the volcano we waited for our chicken bus to head back to Leon.
—-> MUST PACK ITEM — hiking boots! You will want a good strong pair of these for this hike. We have Merrells and they worked great and kept us blister-free!
Book this tour (& so much more!) here
Day 4: LAS PENITAS BEACH / MANAGUA
When we got back to Leon, we went back to the Quetzaltrekkers office to gather our things and decided we wanted to spend our last day on the beach! I had never been in the Pacific Ocean before so I was excited for my first time in it! Las Penitas is a beach about 20 minutes away from Leon. It was gorgeous and highly recommended for us to visit. Las Penitas donned beautiful black sand and not many people were there so it was pretty nice practically having the beach to ourselves!
When we got to Las Penitas, we walked into a cute little beach lodge called ‘Simple Beach Lodge’. It is owned by the sweetest Argentinian woman who speaks pretty much perfect English! We were able to rent surfboards from her for as little as $6 USD for 4 hours!
We arranged for a cab from Leon to take us there and we got the driver’s cell phone number and arranged that we’d call him when we were ready to be taken back. It worked out great. There aren’t too many cabs near the beach area so it is best to pre-arrange something with your driver ahead of time.
The waves were pretty strong and the sand was hot but we enjoyed our time there. There are also bars and restaurants so we sat down and had some lunch as well.
After that, we headed back to Leon to grab the bus back to Managua, where we would be spending our final night.
We had an amazing time on the Telica tour and at the beach! We would definitely recommend booking a tour through Quetzaltrekkers over anyone else. The fact that they are non-profit working for the betterment of the people of Nicaragua was one of the reasons we chose to book through them.
Back in Managua we checked into our hotel and found a nice steakhouse to eat at for dinner.
Lost Inn Managua – Planes de Altamira 1, 14034, Managua, Nicaragua
Book it here
Day 5: FLY HOME 😦
The morning of our last day we had a tasty breakfast provided by the hostel free of charge then went to the airport to catch our flight back to New York.
We hope you enjoyed our Nicaragua blog! We definitely recommend checking out Nicaragua. There’s so much more to see than what we saw but 5 days is a perfect amount of time there.
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